I’m experimenting with headlines to see if I can place higher in Google searches. I’m predicting this will be my best one since “Topless Kate Middleton Watches Hunger Games Trailer on iPad 3.”
It’s hard for me to get too worked up about the whole Lance Armstrong thing. At first, his was a good story that was fun to watch. I don’t care about cycling, but I do like anything that makes the French mad, so I enjoyed seeing him win the Tour de France, and I was a nominal fan. And it was inspirational when he came back from cancer and still competed at the highest level. So, it’s not like I had a picture of him in my wallet, but overall I had good feelings about the guy.
But after he left his wife for Sheryl Crow, I had nothing for him. And I was surprised that his name was ever associated with the word “integrity” by anyone after that. I’m not saying I knew then that he was rotten to the core or anything, but people give us clues about their character by the way they behave. Leaving your wife and mother of your children for a rock star is certainly a clue that you may not have the integrity to resist other temptations, like, for instance, the temptation to cheat to win a bike race.
To me, the story of Lance Armstrong is not the tragedy of a hero’s fall from great heights, but yet another confirmation that humans are so completely, thoroughly human. The world is caving in on Armstrong, and people are saying that he’s a terrible person. And that may well be the case, but it doesn’t seem to me like he’s an exceptional sinner. He’s just a very common sinner on an exceptionally large stage.
What did Lance Armstrong do? He created a fiction about himself, and attacked anyone who threatened that fiction. How is that different from what we all do? There’s more money involved with Armstrong, probably, unless Nike is paying you a couple million bucks a year to look like you have it all together. But aside from that, his offense is so very, very common.
Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that Lance and Manti were in a love triangle with a girl. But instead of Lennay, this imaginary girl was named “Fame.” Everything they did, they did to win her and keep her. I’m not saying that to defend them, just to point out that on a certain level, they’re behavior isn’t all that unusual. Don’t we watch people in the same passionate clench with fame on TV all day long, every day?
The difference is that we know that Kim Kardashian is putting us on, but Lance and Manti claimed to be for real. Now people who believed them feel like chumps. That, as much as anything, is the source of public anger and disappointment.